Why does your dog lick your feet?

Hangai Lilla

2024. February 17 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Most owners have probably encountered the somewhat bizarre phenomenon of dogs licking their feet when they get out of the shower or after a long walk, when shoes and socks come off. Or it can happen on completely random occasions, just lying in bed or on the sofa.


In the following, we will discuss why dogs lick human feet, and of course whether it is worth regulating or banning this behaviour.

Why does a dog lick human feet?

For dogs licking is a completely natural behaviour, which can occur in several situations. This kind of grooming strengthens the bond, helps the dog to express itself and to learn about things. It can also have a calming effect and can be enjoyable and exciting. Especially if they can also taste flavours they like on the object or body part in question. And then, of course, over the millennia that dogs have lived with us, they’ve also realised that licking us is an easy way to get attention.

Before we go any further, it is important to say that excessive licking – be it a part of the dog’s own bodyor a part of the owner’s body or an object – almost invariably indicates some kind of problem that can be linked to stress, anxiety or trauma. If left untreated, more serious mental and physical problems can develop. If you are suspicious about your pet’s behaviour, make sure you take it to the vet for a check-up!

Let’s now return to the feet. While for us the foot is usually a neutral area, for a dog, whose sense of smell can be 100 000 times better than ours, it’s a real treasure mine. This part of the body is enveloped by a tickling smell, and sweating makes it taste salty. If you think with your dog’s head a little, we don’t need to explain why this is so exciting for them. What’s more, the scent and taste samples can give them information about what you’ve been up to lately.

For a dog, the human foot may carry information.

Should you let your dog lick your feet?

Provided there are no infected areas or open wounds on your feet and you are not using any cosmetics or medications that could be harmful or toxic to your dog, you can let it lick your feet. That is, of course, if you don’t have a problem with it. If it bothers you, you’re the owner, so you have the opportunity to teach the dog that it’s not a desirable thing to do.

If it bothers you, distracting the animal may be the best solution.

What can you do if you don’t want your dog to lick your feet?

If you don’t want your four-legged friend to lick your feet, the first thing to do is to be consistent with the ban. Always tell him no, no exceptions!

Rather than giving negative feedback on the action, simply walk away or sit/stand so the dog can’t touch your leg. Stay neutral: don’t scold in any way, it will get you nowhere. (You can even leave the room if you think it will help.) You may want to supplement this tactic with a distraction. A food puzzle, a chewing toy, a ball, anything your pet likes and enjoys and keeps it busy and stimulated.

If you’re clueless because the habit won’t stop, we recommend consulting a vet first! If the vet does not find a health problem in the background, a trainer can easily help in the situation.

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